To those of you who either are unaware or choose not to acknowledge it, animal testing is still a very real problem. For the conscientious objectors that are both aware and deeply appalled by this process, it can be difficult to do simple, everyday things. Shopping, for instance, has become a tedious and disappointing endeavor. With so few companies choosing to keep their products cruelty-free, most bottles on the shelves are a no-go.
Serious research needs to be done, too, as many companies can be misleading about the involvement of animals in the making of their products. Don’t be fooled by the labels—while some products have ‘not tested on animals’ written on them, the truth is, while the finished product may not have been used on any animal, some of the ingredients used to make it have.
Likewise, major cosmetics retailers, like MAC, that refrained from testing on animals in the past have gone back as a means to cut costs on production and market to countries overseas like China. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require cosmetics be tested first on animals, similar regulators in China do.
Other issues include cruelty-free companies that are owned by guilty ‘umbrella companies.’ What this means is that a company, such as Urban Decay, can be truly cruelty-free, vegan and even actively working against all forms of animal involvement in cosmetics (all true), yet still be guilty through association by being owned by a larger, ‘umbrella company,’ like L’oreal, that does not practice the same methods. You can find out where a company lies in terms of their involvement in animal testing by searching them on PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies database.
Another helpful tip is to look for the ‘Leaping Bunny.’ This image appears on products of companies that do not test their finished products nor any ingredients going into their making on animals. They have also created a ‘Cruelty Free’ app that allows android and iPhone owners to get the same information on the go (and it’s free!).
Despite the day-to-day hassle, thankfully there are people like Illinois Wesleyan University Psychology professor Dr. Ellen Furlong who have similar values and act in a way they find meaningful, without compromising their morals. Rather than testing on animals, Dr. Furlong chooses to test with them, using dogs and primates in her research, but utilizing only positive reinforcement to influence their behavior. At no point are any of the animals used in her research in danger, and they are never forced to do anything. Furlong says that “anything I wouldn’t do to my own dog” is not done in her research.
Furlong considers a “cost-benefit” factor when evaluating the involvement of animals in certain situations. For instance, in entertainment and cosmetics development, the cost-benefit is not great enough, in her opinion, to condone or allow the potential and probable harm of animals. But, she argues their use in researching and developing critical pharmaceuticals and procedures is great enough.
To clarify: in noting Dr. Furlong’s research in such high regard, it is in no way my intention to put down the other professors on campus or their research. It is only my desire to shed light on the situation in hopes for a better tomorrow.
In theory, if we want results that are effective on human beings, shouldn’t they be the ones being tested on? The problem is that most of the tests done on animals are deemed unethical to perform on people, which makes me wonder why people think it is tolerable to use un-consenting animals in their stead.